Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Things I Found August 4, 2009

[T]he SEC says that Bank of America executives concealed information from its shareholders prior to the shareholder vote to merge, harming those shareholders. Therefore, the same shareholders who were harmed by the concealment now have to pay another $33 million. Is this justice?

~ Randall Holcombe

The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitable he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is apt to spread discontent among those who are.

~ H.L. Mencken

One of the most perversely misleading myths about government is that it promotes order within its own bailiwick, keeps groups from constantly warring with each other and somehow creates togetherness and harmony. In fact, that’s the exact opposite of the truth. There’s no cosmic imperative for different people to rise up against one another – unless they’re organized into political groups. The Middle East, now the world’s most fertile breeding ground for hatred, provides an excellent example.

Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together peaceably in Palestine, Lebanon and North Africa for centuries, until the situation became politicized after WWI. Until then an individual’s background and beliefs were just personal attributes, not a casus belli. Government was at its most benign, an ineffectual nuisance that concerned itself mostly with extorting taxes. People were busy with that most harmless of activities, making money.

But politics does not deal with people as individuals. It scoops them up into parties and nations. And some group inevitably winds up using the power of the state (however innocently or "justly" at first) to impose its values and wishes on others, with predictably destructive results. What would otherwise be an interesting kaleidoscope of humanity then sorts itself out according to the lowest common denominator peculiar to the time and place.

The Essence of Government, Doug Casey

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